Personal blog, TBT, Travels

#TBT Istanbul <3

Hi guys,

I decided to do a new thing from now on.
I will do tb every Thursday to places I visited in the past.

First stop is going to be my second favorite city in the world.
Istanbuuuuulllll …

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Honestly I can not wait to get back to this amazing city.
It was one of my first destinations ever. Before that I was a student without a travelling budget  🙂 …
I remember arriving at Taksim and literally staring as a little child with my eyes wide open. I have never seen so many people at one place in my whole life.
I was standing at the beginning of the main street with two large suit cases and thinking, omg  how the hell am I going to move trough this crowd  :D.

My friend Gümüş soon arrived and help me find my way. She was so kind that she accomodate me and my friend for the 12 days in her apartment in the center of the city.
Sooo huge shout out to her and her amazingness. ❤
With her great apartment and super helpful tips this was one of my best trips everrrrr …

Yes, I did say 12 days, but trust me this was not enough. Istanbul is huge city and every corner is worth exploring.
Rich history,culture, crazy  energy, people, food, shopping. I loved everything about it.

I decided to write  about few places you definitely have to visit, because not everyone have 12 days to stay in the same city and because I do not want to write a novel ;D …

1.Sultan Ahmet Camii ( Blue Mosque)

For sure the most popular tourist attractions in Istanbul, built between 1606 and 1616 during the rule of Ahmed I .
This building is magnificent in every way. From the exterior to the breathtaking interior.  20 000 blue tiles are the reason why this mosque got her nick name “Blue Mosque” and this wonder incorporates mix of Ottoman and Byzantine architecture.
It is open every day, except 90 minutes during the prayer and have in mind that religious people can come at any time to pray, so try to avoid flash photography.
Blue Mosque is on the list of Unesco World Heritage list. Entrance to the Blue Mosque is  for free.
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2. Aya Sofia

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Aya Sofia was Greek Orthodox basilica, transformed into an Mosque after Ottoman conquer, and now a Museum .
The current building was originally constructed as a church between 532 and 537 on the orders of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I. In 1453. Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Empire and cathedral was transformed into the mosque. It was used in that purpose until 1931. After four years of being closed for pub;ic, building was open as a Museum of Turkish Republic in 1935. Interesting fact is that  Only Pantheon in Rome has slightly bigger dome than the dome of Hagia Sophia in the world. One more surprising facts which I learned during the tour was that this mesmerizing building was built in  record time 5 years, 10 months and 4 days. Just for comparison, construction of Notre Dome in Paris took over a century.  Entrance is 40 TL (around 7,50 e).

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Interiour of Aya Sofia

3. Topkapi Palace

The palace is located directly behind Hagia Sophia, and was built on the same spot where the acropolis of the ancient Greek city of Byzantium stood.
Complex consists  four main courtyards and many smaller buildings. Female members of the Sultan’s family lived in the harem, and leading state officials, including the Grand Vizier, held meetings in the Imperial Council building. As many as 300 concubines lived in the Harem of the palace.
And again interesting fact ,(which obviously I love),is that in  the early days white eunuchs were guardians of the harem, but black eunuchs sent as gifts by the Ottoman governor of Egypt later took control. As many as 200 eunuchs lived in the harem.
When the sultans moved to the Dolmabahce Palace in 1853 Topkapi lost its importance as the official royal residence. It was transformed into a museum in 1924 upon the order of Ataturk.
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4.  Dolmabahce Palace

Dolmabahce palace built  in 19 th century is one of the most glamorous palaces in the world. It was the administrative center of the late Ottoman Empire with the last of Ottoman Sultans was residing there.
Dolmabahce palace has 285 rooms, 44 halls, 68 toilets and 6 Turkish baths.
The palace was the home to the last six sultans of the abolished Ottoman Empire.
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*Interesting fact* 😀
The founder of Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, died in the most basic bedroom of the palace compared to the rest and the clock in the room is still pointing to 09:05 am.
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5. Basilica Cistern

This is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul, built in the 6th century during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian I.
There are 336 giant columns (mostly Ionic or Corinthian in style) supporting the structure in 12 rows of 28 columns.

*Interesting fact* 😀
The cistern was used as a location for the 1963  James Bond film from Russia with love.

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6. Grand Bazaar  (Kapalıçarşı)

One of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, with 61 covered streets and over 4,000 shopsIn 2014, it was listed No.1 among world’s most-visited tourist attractions.
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Place where you can find literally everything. From needle to locomotive.
(We have this saying in Serbian, but pretty sure it is not a rest of the world thing) 😀 .

You can spend the whole days here, and still not see everything.I got lost so many times I lost count. 😀
If you re good in negotiating your price, hurry up, this is the best place for your auction. On the other hand if you suck at it, like myself, try not to buy a lot of stuff. You’ ll end up paying three times more, the their reall worth. lol  :’D
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7. Bosphorus Cruise

From the deck of your boat, glance left to see the shoreline of Europe, right to see the wooded hills of Asia. Pass underneath the massive spans of two intercontinental suspension bridges.Boats depart hourly on the hour year round  between 10am and 7pm and go as far as the second suspension bridge. during the route you’ll see everything from Dolmabahçe Palace to the Ottoman fortress of Rumeli Hisarı, plus scores of cormorants and low-flying squadrons of shearwaters. The Turyol quay is just west of the Galata Bridge in Eminönü.
There are few cruises depending on your time and budget. From short one to those of few hours and lunch. There are even those during the night.

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8. The Princes’ Islands

In the 19th century, the Princes’ Islands, just an hour’s ride from the ferry terminal, were the summer retreat of the city’s wealthy elite. The islands still provide rest from the big city, and locals come here to take horse-drawn carriage ride, hire bicycles and organize picnic.  The thing I love about this island is that the cars are forbidden.
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9.  Galata Tower

 

Placed almost at the end of the main Istiklal street.The nine-story tower is 66.90 m, and was the city’s tallest structure when it was built.There is a restaurant and café on its upper floors which have views of Istanbul and the Bosphorus. Also located on the upper floors is a night club which hosts a Turkish show. There are two operating elevators that carry visitors from the lower level to the upper levels. If you are lookout lover like myself this is a must stop for you.
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10. Nevizade sokak

I personally fell in love with this area.
The lively Nevizade Street (Nevizade Sokak) in Beyoğlu, located in the modern part of Istanbul, is where the party’s at, on any night of the week, winter or summer. A trip to Istanbul simply is not complete without having tasted the mezes  in one of the many meyhanes (taverns), or having enjoyed a beer on the terraces of the various pubs.

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11. Shopping time

I have never seen this many shopping malls and markets in my life. If you are on a shopping spree this city is perfect stop. There is one shopping center on each metro station, huge markets , small local stores and even several store of  the same brands in th main street.
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When you’re done with overwhealming tour, you definitely deserve a break.
Mine was always with great turkish which I adore and balkava baby 😀 …

 

 This was really short listed list of the things this stunning city has to offer. Maybe the best thing about Istanbul is how warm, friendly and welcoming his people are. 
I never felt more welcomed in my life, while being in a foreign country. 

See you soon Istanbul  🙂 … I sure can not wait. 

Talk to you soon guys
Stefan :*

Travels

Venice – Italy

Hi guys,

I am back. Last week was super exciting for me since I managed to visit five cities in four days.
Timisoara, Venice, Padua, Treviso and finally Skopje.

My main destination this time was Venice, so my first blog after this journey is dedicated to this unique city. For sure this is a very unique citie, you won’t find anywhere else.
Also it is a city that is sinking, so pack your bags and hurry up before it does, it is a shame not to see it.

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Venice is situated across a group of 118 small islands that are separated by canals and linked by bridges, of which there are 400. Guys I swear to you I never crossed more bridges in my whole life.  ;’) However ever single one will give you a chance to snap the stunning photo.
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City is perfect just to walk around, get lost, which you will be for sure. lol
Super confusing but in its own charming way.
I was situated in Hotel Lux, literally 50m away from Piazza San Marco.

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In this photo you can see St. Marks Basilica and St. Marks Campanile which is actually a bell tower with height of 98 m and provides truly stunning view on the city.

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Passing next to the bell and turning right you are arriving at The Piazzetta, which to me looked as a extension of Piazza San Marco but it is considered as a different area.
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This area will lead you to the Grand Canal, Bridge of Sighs, Doge’s Palace, Santa Maria della Salute.

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On the other side of the Grand Canal you will see mesmerizing Santa Maria della Salute.
Cheaper option to get there is using gondola ferry and it is 2e one way. The other way is using Vaporeto system which is basically their public transportation and one ticket is 7.5 e , but you may also buy daily pass  for vaporeto, which is 20e …

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The Doge’s Palace is a palace built in Venetian Gothic style, and one of the main landmarks of the city of Venice. The palace was the residence of the Doge of Venice, the supreme authority of the former Republic of Venice, opening as a museum in 1923. Today, it is one of the 11 museums run by the Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia.
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The Bridge of Sighs  is a enclosed bridge, made of white limestone, has windows with stone bars, passes over the Rio di Palazzo, and connects the New Prison to the interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace.
The view from the Bridge of Sighs was the last view of Venice that convicts saw before their imprisonment. The bridge’s name, comes from the suggestion that prisoners would sigh at their final view of beautiful Venice through the window before being taken down to their cells.
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Another bridge which you must include in your sightseeing is Rialto Bridge.
Truly  stunning,  the oldest bridge spanning the Grand Cannal.
Here is the view from it.

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Two of the island worth visiting are Burano and Murano.

Murano island famous for glass making. Interesting fact about this island is that all glass maker were obligated to live in this island, so that they can protect secrets of glass making, while Burano is famous for picturesque canals lined with colorful houses.
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Of course when in Venice you have to take a gondola ride. 45 minutes in gondola costs 80 e, and it is not negotiable.  You can eighter choose to pay it yourself and have a private tour or you can wait other travelers so that you can split the fee and meet new interesting folks 🙂 ….

Some of the useful tips I can provide is avoid extremely central places since it can happen that you get charge for service, tax for sitting etc …
You can find many nice restaurant in the narrow streets around the main squares with decent prices. If you are on a budget there are many pizza places where the pizza slice is just 2 e.
You can find gelatos all over the city, very delicious and from 1,5 for one scoop.
Espresso is 2e and I already said how much  I love Italian food, coffee and gelato in my blog about Rome.

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I am finishing up this blog with few pretty pics and talk to you soon guys.
I will be writing about Padua, Treviso and Skopje in my next blog.

Love,
Stefan

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Travels

6 Reason why you should visit Belgrade!

Hello guys,

I am back. This time I have decided to write about the city that has special place in my heart. It is the city that I live in for the past ten years, and the city that I have difficult time moving on from.

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            Photography by Ivan Bukvic  https://www.instagram.com/b.ivan_/

 

Like myself this is the city that survived a lot . It has been destroyed over and over again, and each time it rose from the ashes stronger and more beautiful.

Belgrade keeps not so glory record of being  the most destroyed city in the world, throughout the history. That would be more than 45 times and the biggest damage had in the Second World War when it was bombed by enemies and later by allies by mistake.

Good thing is that this days are long gone. Belgrade now stands as a stunning capital of Serbia, brighter than ever with cultural bloom, delicious food, best night life in Europe and friendly and open people who always try to welcome their guests in best way possible.

Here are the 6.  reasons why you should put Belgrade on your travel list as soon as possible.

1.Belgrade is a historical jewel

The oldest settlement in this city is from 279 BC, today known as a Kalemegdan fortress.

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Photography by Ivan Bukvic https://www.instagram.com/b.ivan_/

The first mention of the city, then called Singidunum, was in the 3rd century, when Celtics defeated Thracian and Dacian tribe and took over this exact fortress. Later on this city fort was conquered by Romans. At that point Belgrade became border between Roman Empire and Central Europe. Interesting fact is that 17 Roman emperors were born in the area of today modern Serbia.
Later on this fort got destroyed several times by the Huns. Legend even says that the Atilla’s grave is under the fortress in the confluence of the rivers, Danube and Sava, but that’s a whole different story 🙂 …
In the 5th century this city becomes border again, now between Western and Eastern Roman Empire. In the 7th century Serbs settled in and that’s the first time of mentioning the name we all know today, “Beograd” which in Serbian and most slavic languages stands for “White city” … To cut to the chase, otherwise this will turn into history lessons.
Fortress changed rulers many times after Serbs settled as well.
Bulgarians, Austro-Hungarian, Ottomans with Serbians restoring it in between, until
1867. when Turks withdraw from Belgrade and Serbia.
Today Kalemegdan fortress has a stunning view from its highest point,on the confluence of two rivers, second biggest river in Europe Danube and Sava, Great War Island and New Belgrade (modern, business and residential area of the city).

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photography by Ivan Bukvić
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https://www.instagram.com/b.ivan_/

Strolling around the fort there is a lot of things to explore such as Roman Well,Military Museum,  Two beautiful Orthodox Churches, Zindan Gate,  Jaksic’s Tower  , Despot Stefan Tower,  Stambol Gate, Gate of Charles VI, Statue of Victor, even a zoo and that is not all.

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Ruzica Church 

2. Bohemian vibe and great food

To experience proper Belgrade Bohemian vibe you will have to visit some of the local restaurants located in SKADARLIJA.

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Skadarlija – Bohemian quarter

Coble-stoned, narrow,  pedestrian area with great restaurants which offer unique experience you won’t find anywhere else.  Very traditional night out with orchestras who are playing tambourines going from table to table and singing traditional songs with locals joining. If you see someone smashing a plate or a glass do not be scared. That probably means he has emotional connections to one of te songs. 😀
It is very bohemian night out, and difference is huge plates and reasonable prices.
Trust me you will not find this sized portions anywhere else. When in this type of night out you have to try Rakija, traditional drink made out of plumb with 60% of alcohol. Usually this drink is home-made wich is much better version than industrial.
You can find different tastes as well such as honey, cherry, peach, apricot etc.
For those who like well-known beverages Kafanas have huge offers of local vines.
When speaking about food Serbian cuisine  is characterized by a mixture of Mediterranean, Central European, Ottoman Turkish, as well as ancient Slavic influences.
With Serbia being located at the crossroads between East and West, its cuisine has gathered elements from different cooking styles across the Middle East and Europe to develop its own hearty gastronomy with an intricate balance of rich meats, vegetables, cheese, fresh pastries and desserts. It has much in common with the cuisines of neighboring Balkan countries, as well as, to a smaller extent, with cuisines of countries as far north as Germany and as far east as Iran and Pakistan. Its flavours are mild, fresh and natural. Seasonings are light, while ingredients are fresh and of good quality.
Some of the dishes you should try when in Serbia are Ćevapi, Karađorđeva snicla, Pljeskavica, Sarma, Prebranac, Musaka … etc …

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Karadjorjdeva snicla 

Some of the restaurant from this streets had an opportunity to welcome famous people from all over the world.
Restaurant  called “Dva Jelena” had honor to  welcome former USA president Jimmy Carter, famous actors Pierce Brosnan and Gérard Depardieu, even the world no.1 cheff Jamie Oliver.
While restaurant “Tri Šešira” had chance of welcoming  another USA president, George W. Bush.

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Interior of a Serbian traditional restaurant “Dva Jelena” 

I am vegetarian myself and past few years this type of diet started expanding in Serbia as well, so you can find many vegan and vegetarian restaurants such as “Radost Fina Kuhinjica”, while many others offer vegan and vegeterian options.

3.  Culture 

Art scene is blooming in Belgrade and it always has been an important part of life, of people living in Belgrade.

-National museum which has over 400 000 artifacts including the cyrillic writing “Miroslavljevo Jevandjelje” from 12th century, protected by UNESCO.  National museum owns paintings of some of the biggest artists of all time such as Van Gogh, Picasso,Rubens, Renoir, while the most valuable painting of El Greko was unfortunately stolen from the Museum in Second World War.
And if you thought that is all, National Museum even has its own Mummy of Egyptian Prist Nesmin, arrived in Belgrade over 130 years ago.

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Nationa Museum 

– Museum of Contemporary Art with 35 000 work of arts. and by its self it is an architectural masterpiece.

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Museum of Contemporary arts 

– Museum of Yugoslav history that displays period of one country from Second World War until it fell apart. Former President Josip Broz Tito is berried behind this museum in his mausoleum with his wife.
-Beli Dvor is Royal House of Serbian Royal dynasty Karadjorjdevic. Inside of this stunning building you can actually see Picasso’s drawings, paintings by Nicolas Poussin and Paolo Caliari.
Beside this huge institutions, young artists organize small independent art exhibitions to represent their work very often.
One of the events that are organized each year is Mikser House which helps young artist to show their work for free.

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Photo from the Last Mikser Festival in 2017.

National Theatre, Yugoslav Drama Theatre, Belgrade Drama Theatre, Atelje 212 offer huge diversity of dramas, ballets and operas.

4. Architecture 
Belgrade has really diverse and interesting architecture because of its history.

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Photo by Ivan Bukvic https://www.instagram.com/b.ivan_/

Neoclassicism,Romanticism, Renaissance, Brutalist architecture and Religious buildings.
Almost every era has its representative. Sometimes even one next to another.

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Konak Knjeginje Ljubice

 
Maybe most interesting fact is that Belgrade has his gates. Eastern and Western gates are proper examples of Brutalist architecture.

 

Serbians are mostly of Orthodox religion. Religion has always played big part in Serbia, and that’s why religious buildings are very beautiful.  If you’re architecture fan or interested in religion you should check some of the churches and cathedrals.
Most beautiful are St Marks Church , St Sava Temple which is one of the biggest Orthodox churches in the world, Church of Aleksandar Nevski which was project of First Serbian female architecture called Jelisaveta Načić, small hidden church in Kalemegdan fortress, Church Ruzica and many more.

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St. Sava Temple Photo by Ivan Bukvic https://www.instagram.com/b.ivan_/

Since Belgrade has two rivers, it also has many bridges two connect Old city with the new one.  Recent one and for sure breathtaking is Adas Bridge.

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 Photo by Ivan Bukvic https://www.instagram.com/b.ivan_/


5.Nature within the city

There is just few cities out there that can provide you shelter from city noise and modern stressed life …
Well Belgrade is one of them.
Ada Lake or Avala mountain. You choose.

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Ada lake

Ada lake is a place where you can go for a swim, bike ride, walk or just a place where you can enjoy beautiful  sunset in one of the many bars.

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Avala Tower

Avala Mountai is a perfect place for a picnic with your family. And not just that but you can actually visit Avala Tower and enjoy the view from the top either from the top or from the cafe one floor down. While there you can visit the Monument of the Unknown Soldier.

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Monument of the Unknown soldier

6. Party, Party, Party!

So basically Belgrade is all about parting, and not just on the weekends. You can party any day and at any time of the day.
What Belgrade is most famous for are floating boats ( clubs on the river).

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Most of them are working from April until October, but there are some working during the whole year. There are also regular bars and clubs all over the city.
There is something for everyone. Pop, House, Rnb, 90s parties and if you want something really local there are turbo-folk parties or bohemian nights.
During the summer Belgrade has Beer Festival and many more.

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Beer fest

Compared to other parts of Europe, parting in Belgrade is much more affordable. 🙂

This was short list of reasons why you should come to my city.
I really hope some of you decide to come very soon, and if so please contact me so that I can help you explore Belgrade in best way possible. 🙂 

Talk to you soon,
Stefan :*

Travels

Rome – Eternal city

Hi guys,
This is my first blog ever and I will cut  to the chase. I will mostly write about my travels, sometimes about important stuff that had happened to me and I will bedazzled everything with pretty pictures made by me.
I choose Rome to be my first topic and everyone who went there will know why.
For those who haven’t  here is a simple explanation, because it is mesmerizing.
In october of 2017, I landed for the very first time in this amazing city, and I must tell you it blew me away from the very first moment.
To be sure that I will get back I’ve thrown a coin into the Trevi fountain.

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You know what they say. Trow one coin and you’ll have to return. However there is other possibilities here. If you decide to trow two coins, you will ensure your self  a new romance, while three of them guarantee you a marriage. I honestly was not interested in that part, at least not for now 😀 …

Most surprising thing about Rome is how affordable accommodation is. Me and my friends were in B&B close to the Termini station, which is pretty good location, since everything is in a walkable distance. We even had breakfast included for 30e per night. All travelers know how cheap this is. Even food and restaurants are not that expensive, if you look around. Of course do not eat or buy things around Colosseum and Fontana Di Trevi.
Stroll around the streets, go a little bit further from tourist attractions and you will find much cheaper meals, water and gelato.

When speaking about gelato. Here is a sneak peek of what Italy in general has to offer. It is de-li-ci-ous and prices go from 3,5 e to 10 e.


I must mention Italian espresso as well, although I do not have pic 😀 … Italians are proud of it for a reason. It is best espresso I ever had. Is there really need to talk about pizza and pasta, really? We all know where are they coming from.

Let’s get back to the city. City center is made of  couple of beautiful squares and each one of them is beautiful and unique in its own way.  They are called “Piazza” in Italian and some of them are Piazza Navona, Piazza del Propolo, Piazza di Spagna,  Piazza Venezia, Piazza della Rotonda.
I am a type of traveler that likes to explore every single stone in the cities I visit. Soooo I have checked all of the above and a lot more. :’). Do not worry I will not spam you with 10k photos I keep on my phone. I will post some here, and more of them you can check on my instagram account.

You can see Altare Della Patria behind me located on Piazza Venezia. Entrance to this magnificent building is free and there is an amazing view from the top.

My  favorite square would definitely be Piazza di Spagna with its Spanish steps.
The monumental stairway has a total of 135 steps and it is strictly forbidden to eat or drink on them in order to keep them clean. I personally love this rule.On the top od the stairs you can see The Obelisk which is one of the 12 Egyptian Obelisks in Rome.
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Piazza Navona is considered the main and the most beautiful square in Rome. It does not have one but three eyecatching fountains. I’ve always likes myths that people attach to certain places and this square has one.There is a legend of a ghost in the ancient palace around Piazza Navona, called Via dell’Anima. Under a full moon it is possible to see a hand shape in one of the palace windows. It is the hand of Costanza de Cupis, a woman whose perfect hand was amputated after becoming infected. I was there during the night, but was not lucky enough to see the hand 😦 …
It was not my intention to chase the Egyptian Obelisks around the city, but on the photography below you can see the second one I captured. Yeeey me 😀
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One of the best preserved Ancient Roman buildings is Pantheon located on Piazza della Rotonda. And look there is a half of one of The Obelisk again …  (honestly not intentional) 😀LRM_EXPORT_20180223_102328 :

Since Rome is surrounded with seven hills, you can easily find stunning views all around the city and do a really good cardio while strolling from one to another.LRM_EXPORT_20180213_221752.jpg

This is one of the many views and it is actually looking on the Piazza del Propolo.
While we are talking about walking here is a small friendly tip to all the  girls out there.
Wear comfortable sneakers while traveling. This tip is brought to you by my beautiful friend on this pic, who brought only fancy boots with her. Luckily she was able to wear my shoes for running… :’)

Her troubles did not end there.While we were in Colosseum she had close encounter with a bird  … But hey, old folks say it is a good luck … 😀

Back to the views …
One of the places you can take a really good panorama in Rome is Aventine Hill. On top of the hill you can find Orange Garden and a terrace which provides you with stunning view. Instead of the view I will post, a picture of my self from the Garden.
A litlle bit of self promotion can’t hurt nobody 😀 …
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For sure the best view of the whole city is from the Gianicolo. It is the second highest hill in Rome and it is incredible to watch sunsets from it. Unfortunately by the time we got up there my battery was dead so I do not ave photo to prove it. 😦
Next day we did not have enough time to get up there again, but hey there is always next time, and I have picture taken in best place possible where I will keep it forever.
IN MY MIND …
When mentioning Rome you have to talk about Vatican city as well. Line to get inside was extremely long, for several kilometres.  There are tour guides which guarantee you express entrance but honestly I do not know much about the prices of those tours.
We were in a hurry to explore the whole Rome so we took several photos and continued in our search.
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This was really short retrospective about my trip to Rome. I will be more than happy to answer all of your questions. So please be free to comment on this blog or even contact me on instagram.

Talk to you soon,
Stefan